Thursday, August 02, 2007

Homesick-- Camp—Community

I spent last week with 8,9 and 10 year old boys and girls at Camp Mechuwana as a counselor. It was a great time, though I am still recovering from my sleep deficit. This group of campers were much easier than prior years.

Each night I read to my cabin of boys “The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. They enjoyed the story. Each day one of them would ask if I’d read to them again that night. Reading out loud is a powerful experience. In this age of video games, DVDs and television there is still room for a story read to a group of kids. I read by flashlight in a dark room so they were free to let their minds picture the entire story. It took me back to days when I read to my sons, perched on my lap, soaking in each word. We spent hours together like this. Time well spent.

I was privileged to walk the journey of homesickness with some of my campers. You may remember those days. The strangeness of a new place and the longing for the familiar which strikes in waves of sadness and tears. As I listened to my campers, I shared my own stories of being away from home and the techniques I used to combat my own homesickness. I was reminded of the intensity of feelings and how an understanding ear would make such a difference.

I wonder about our own homesickness. Do you ever feel that longing to be in a familiar place, a place where you are loved, a place where you are simply you? I feel it from time to time. Even though I am now two years in my new town and new home, I find myself longing for what was but is no longer my home.

Sometimes, I find myself wondering if there is any place of home for me? Sometimes it is as if there is no place I truly fit in.

I’ve read authors who suggest this is a part of our longing for the Kingdom yet to come, the new heaven and new earth. That could be, I don’t know. What I do know is it raises a longing in me for community. I think lost of folks long for true community, where others care for us, where we are accepted as we are, where there is commitment to love and sacrifice for one another. I’ve experienced that once in a church. I believe it is what the church is meant to be. It is one thing the church can offer our world. And perhaps that is why it is so disappointing when a church community is characterized by bitterness, prejudice, anger, selfishness, mistrust and strife. The loss of potential community feels so much greater then.

Maybe this is why the camp experience is so powerful and transformative. For a week we get to live in community as we hoped it would be. Even if it is short lived, it changes us.

So I’m a little tired this week. But it is a comforting tired, because for a week I was privileged to be a member of a camp community. I’m better for it. So are the kids.

Grace & peace,


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